Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Count The Fish

I have been reading a book by Darlene Deibler Rose entitled "Evidence Not Seen".  She writes about her internment as a prisoner of war when the Japanese invaded New Guinea after bombing Pearl Harbor.  Newly married, and new to the mission field, they were eager to begin the work they felt God had for them.  World War II  brought a swift end to those plans and it also brought with it the death of her husband and four long years of suffering in an internment camp.  I have been humbled by the faith of these missionaries and more, who stood on God's promises in unbelievable tough times. 

I also watched  by video as Rick and Kay Warren spoke about how they are getting through the tough times since the death by suicide of their son Matthew four months ago.  Last Sunday they shard their pain and deep sorrow and what they are doing to walk through this tragedy.  They spoke about God  always loving us.  How God weeps with them, and how it is the enemy that took Matt from them, NOT God.  They are walking in hope, standing on God's promises and His love for them during extremely difficult times.

Today I read Monday's post at Ann Voskamp's Blog, A Holy Experience.  Another powerful writing on how we manage the pain, the struggles, the unwanted circumstances that we face in a broken world.  She shared the story of when Jesus told Peter and the others to go out in their boat again and throw their net down on the right side this time.  How their net was FULL but did not break when they obeyed Him and they came back with 153 fish. 

They counted the fish.  They counted the BLESSINGS that God had given them.  Just Like Ann invites all of us to do on a daily basis by keeping a list of the small, seemingly unimportant and the big things we can be grateful for.  How "counting the fish" keeps our focus on God and reminds us that we can trust Him every single day no matter what we face. 

In more ways than I realize , I expect these encounters today are speaking to me deep in my soul. God is gently reminding me to count the fish.  It seems too simple to be affective.  Just write down throughout the day all you observe and see them for what they are~ gifts from a loving God.  The Bible tells us over and over to praise Him.  Give thanks.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus.  Trust and obey.  

Count the fish.

It is all about perspective, and we have so much to be grateful for.  So. very. much.  And God in His infinite wisdom knows that as we praise and give thanks we are doubly blessed.  I am going to make a sign to frame and hang on our wall as a daily reminder from our loving G.od.

Count the fish.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just Another Day

"It is for freedom that Christ set us free. 
Stand firm, therefore, and never again be burdened
by a yoke of bondage (slavery)."
Galatians 5:1

I have this verse printed on paper in large letters and taped up around the house.  It is a reminder of the freedom that is ours because of Jesus.  We feel such joy at seeing this promise come to fruition in our lives!  It is a promise we can stand on as we walk in the Spirit.

On Sunday morning Joel and I got up, had breakfast, dressed, and headed to a small tourist town 15 miles away from our home.  We parked and walked about 1 1/2 blocks to the city park for an outdoor church service.  Sitting at a picnic table we worshiped with the praise band and listened to a sermon while  breezes blew and rain threatened.   After services we walked downtown to Cabin Coffee.  It was crowded with morning coffee lovers, but we managed to order a cinnamon latte for Joel and a "Just Fruit" smoothie for myself.  Joel splurged on a big cinnamon roll with icing and we sat at a table enjoying the atmosphere and our goodies. We then walked another block back to the van before driving home. 

For most people this would be just another day.  For us it was a delightful adventure filled with blessings we could not have imagined 18 months ago.  I told Joel the past few weeks I feel like I am waking up from a deep sleep.  I still feel like a refugee from a foreign land as I learn to navigate being out in the world after years of isolation.

Lets start with getting up, and ready for morning church.  This summer I am going to church again after 9 years of Joel heading out the door alone while I stayed behind,  trapped in bondage by Lyme.
Going to church outside?  In the wind?  Granny Warrior, alias me,  has a tick phobia, but I have been attempting to walk in the grass and enjoy nature again.  For years I never set foot on grass.  Wind?  When you are fighting with all over neuropathy, being out in the wind can make you feel like pins are sticking you all over you body...even your scalp.  And once activated it does not like to go away.  In the past it kept me awake many nights and in constant prayer.  Lyme damage.  Like other symptoms, I have started speaking against this nerve pain and demanding it go in the name of has rebelled lately, but I am still not letting it control me.  It is leaving.


Lately I have been walking a mile every day.  Just 15 months ago I could walk only 3 minutes.  I am not kidding.  And just 5 weeks ago, before being prayed over at the healing service,  I could walk 10 minutes.  Now, I am walking 30.  This is amazing.


Then lets look at all of the chemical fragrances that comes from people who use shampoos, deodorants, body washes, hair spray and the like.  I needed to avoid it at all costs...or pay the consequences with 5 days of nauseating headaches and sinus issues along with brain fog and the like.  Now I go into stores for the first time in years and am able to handle fragrances, new clothing, cleaning smells, etc. with little or no reaction.


Eventually that will cover gasoline and wood smoke, too, although I never plan to go back to using toxic chemicals in my home.  Why would we?

Joel and I both were gluten, sugar, and dairy intolerant from the Lyme causing our immune systems to overreact.  Yet Joel ate a delicious cinnamon roll of which I had a bite, and had a latte to wash it down.  He can eat anything he wants but regular ice cream do to the chemicals in that.  I will soon be following suite....


Joel and I both have such a deep sense of gratitude for the healing that has and is taking place, and the freedom Jesus died for.  We can hardly wait for our next adventure....and healing.

 I expect we will never take it all completely for granted, but we look forward to the day when such events are "just another day" in the lives of the Dahlens,

Just..  Another.  Day.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

After a week of heat and high humidity and dew points, today we are enjoying 82 degrees and dryer air.  Yay!  Now this is more like it!! 

Speaking of dryer air, I have been researching where to find humidity at around 30-40 percent year round, as that seems to be close to ideal for Joel and myself.   So far I have come up with parts of Colorado, although I have only just begun. 

Speaking of Colorado, our son Kevin is buried there and we have a grandson who lives there with his family.  Speaking of family, after moving our kids around the country a few times and managing one move involving an 18 hour plane trip (The Philippines), most of our family as adults have settled with their own families in permanent places around the Midwest. They like traveling, just not moving so much.  Sometimes when my gypsy blood is stirred up, I long for far horizons and ponder aloud the need to get out of dodge (Iowa).  I expect I will always feel that way due to some kind of generational curse that seems to bring out the wanderer in me!  Must be due to the Irish in me, or maybe it is the French gypsy.....or the Viking blood?!?  Ha! Ha!

Speaking of generations, next weekend we will head up to Minnesota for my older sister's 80th birthday party. She is 15 years older than me and raised me from age 11 until I married, so she is grandma to my kids. It will be great fun to see everyone again.

Joel has been busy writing and biking this week. I have been busy walking, resting, and spending more time in my recliner than I would like.. We did get 50 pounds of blueberries into our freezer....and have been enjoying the other 10 pounds in muffins, on pancakes, and just eating them by the handful.  Yum!  I also have been shopping online and in stores for new sandals.  So far, Nada.  I think my criteria is hard to find.....firm, not spongy heel, low to ground, and supports the ankle without looking like it is for someone old.  Thankfully, I can still wear the ones I have had for 12 years!! 

Ever feel, well............restless?  Or like there is something missing in your life?  Like there are adventures out there that have your name on them, but they are just out of your reach?  Joel and I are both extroverts and now that I am so much better I feel once again like there are places to go and people to see!  I really hunger to do more for God.  And Joel?  Not working has left a void he is struggling to fill.  I truly feel like this restless feeling is part of God's plan for our future. A preparation for what is to come.

Last weekend we watched the movie, "Angel In The House".  It was slow and sweet.  We enjoyed it!  I plan to watch the new Hallmark series, Cedar Cove, based on Debbie Macomber books of that name.  Looks good...looks healthy...looks clean.  We are all for that!  We are still into the correspondence course on Healing and  I have been reading another Red River novel , the third in a series of homesteaders in North Dakota.  What have you been reading?

Until next time.......

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tenacious Linus!

Yesterday Joel brought to my attention the peanuts cartoon in the Sunday comics!  I don't usually read the comics, but he knew this particular strip would speak to me.  Lucy and Charlie Brown were discussing his......tenacity. She called it stubbornness...he called it being tenacious! 

It made us laugh and it also brought me back to when the director of the healing and worship school at Charis Bible College was praying with me at a healing service.   He told me that in the spirit realm he could see I was very faithful and had great tenacity. This was not a word I have used to describe myself, although Joel agreed wholeheartedly.  I kept it close to my heart.

Tenacity:  to stick with something, even when the going gets tough, to never give up and never surrender.  To hold fast and be determined.

In the cartoon Lucy tells Linus he is stubborn....but he tells her he has tenacity just like George Washington at Valley Forge.  He goes on to say...."stubbornness is a fault, tenacity is a virtue!"  the cartoon ends with Lucy socking poor Linus in the face at which point he admits he may be  bit mule-headed.  I have taped it to the front of our fridge as a reminder to me of what was spoken over me regarding healing.  I am tenacious.  I don't give up.  Thank you Jesus.

You see, it was three years ago, that a dear friend who hears from God on a regular basis told me these words:  "God wants you well."  It was six months later that a woman who runs a prayer ministry shared with me the same words:  God wants you well.  And it was then just 18 months ago that an online friend and prayer warrior shared with me a teaching that she felt we would be very interested in, entitled "God Wants You Well."  Those messages along with scriptures, Biblical teachings, and some healing that has already taken place have given me the determination to never give up as I walk this journey. I know that not all people are healed, but I do not let that deter me. 

Yes, there have been physical setbacks, there have been times I have been discouraged and confused.  I have questioned God more than once on why Joel was healed overnight and I have had an uphill battle.  The why questions will destroy you if you let them.  What we can depend on is God's promises.  What we need to focus on is our Lord, our Healer, our Provider, our Father.

When questions arise, when tenacity is difficult to muster, we go back to the Word.  When the enemy tries to shake our faith, when confusion makes our mind mushy, or when the battle seems to difficult.............always, always go back to God's Word.  God's Word is truth, and the truth will set you free. 

"For the Word of God is living and powerful,
sharper than any two-edge sword."
Hebrews 4:12a

"If you keep my Word you are truly my followers. 
You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
John 8:31b, 32

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

It is a dark and rainy day here in our corner of the world with continual thunderstorms moving through.   The past few days have been beautiful, perfect weather so we certainly cannnot complain!  We have enjoyed a little porch sitting this week, but the mosquitoes can be annoying.

We purchased a few more plants to add to the front yard.  We found a beautiful Ivy Geranium for half price, and at the Farmer's Market we came across two unusual rusty orange/red day lilies.  We had been looking for two for the front garden and there they were, calling our name! Here is a picture of one of my favorite hanging plants this came in a red metal pot.

Joel spent quit a bit of time this week writing out his healing story.  He also has been dealing with the aftermath of a second biking accident!  He re-opened the wounds on his arm, did more damage to his hip, took the skin off his knee and seems to have annoyed his lower back.  Sigh.....several people have suggested he get a recumbent three wheel bike or switch to walking but he is not ready for either one. Needless to say, I've been sending up a few extra prayers as he heads out the door.

I walked a mile 4 days this week.  Yay!  The other days I stuck to 22 minutes, so still a good amount of exercise for me.  Joel and I talked about a bike for me but after his accidents I am having second thoughts.  Walking is safer!

Last Sunday we went to a small Lutheran church in town and Monday my brother and his fiancĂ© were here and stayed for supper along with my sister and BIL.  Joel is officiating at their wedding in August.  It will be an outdoor wedding in the town I grew up in, just an hour away.

I havc been going through all our photos....45 years worth~ plus pictures from our relatives that date way back.  It is fun to see all the kids and grandkids when they were little or look back at family members who are no longer with us, but it is also sad and makes us nostalgic.  Double edged sword.

Our son, DIL and grandkids are on vacation in NC.  With texting we have been able to see some fun pictures of their trip.  There is so much to love about technology.  My mom would have loved having texting and Skype.  I used to call my mom every week and catch up with each other..  In fact, she and I did the same crossroad puzzles, so we would share answers when stumped.  Usually I was the one needing help!  She would come spend a week or two with us every year whether we lived in Montana or Minnesota.    I still miss our conversations and her visits.

Speaking of conversations, on Thursday I called a friend from high school who just moved with her hubby to Mesa, Az.  They bought a house on an executive golf course  just 2 blocks from their daughter and grand kids.  The grand kids are over every day to swim or visit and they are loving it!
She invited us to stay if we ever get down that way.  I would love to spend a couple of weeks in AZ this coming winter.

I ordered a correspondence course from Charis Bible College on Healing that Joel and I have been watching and studying.  That has been great!  I have not read much this week, and TV has np been awful for the most part.

I really don't have much to share on this drab and rainy day.  What has been going on in your corner of the world?

Until next time............

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Having A Moldable Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to Him and trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass."
Psalm 37: 4,5

God has been blessing me with the verses above from Psalm 37.  When a scripture comes to me more than three times in a short period of time, I pay attention.  These verses offer yet another promise from God that I am holding close.

By now most of you know that one of the deep desires of my heart is to be fully healed...I long for my healing to be completely manifested in my body, and I will continue on this path because I believe it is God's will for His children to be healthy and whole.  As I have said before, our lives completely changed when Joel was healed of Lyme and we cannot go back.  We can only go forward.  Every new experience only leaves us wanting more....something more for us....and for others.

Lately I have asked myself a hard question......."Do I desire healing more than I desire the Healer?"
This was on my mind as I pondered the first word in these verses....delight...and searched for this verse in a lexicon.  The Hebrew definition of delight here means to be soft or be sensitive to and dependent  upon God.  As Joel Osteen says, "We need to make our hearts moldable to God."  Isn't that a wonderful visual?  Letting our hearts be molded by a loving God.

In the next verse we see we are to commit our way to Him and trust in Him.  In order to be dependent on someone we need to trust them.  It comes back to being a matter of  trust.

Resting and trusting.  The words that God spoke to my heart at the beginning of this year.

We trust His promises!  They are yes and amen.  We trust Him in the storms, in the valleys, on the mountaintops.  We trust His plan for us.  We rest in His Word.

And in the resting and trusting God gives us the desires of our hearts. That is what the verses tell us, isn't it?  And yet there are times this does not come to pass. As I studied these verses I began to see that when we become pliable and dependent on God then our heart turns to God and our relationship with Him.  As we make ourselves available to God, our hearts desires align with His!  After all God is with us and in us.  We hunger for His presence.  We seek the Healer, the Provider, our Father God.  

I am still often amazed at how much He loves us, and as a loving Father He wants to bless us.  He wants to give us more than we could ever ask for or think of.  Wow.  He wants us to delight in Him as He delights in us.  He desires us to have a deep and trusting relationship with Him..  Seeking the Healer more thank the healing.......desiring the Provider more than the provision.  Longing for the relationship more than the world around us.

Resting and trusting.  Actions that will bless us beyond measure and bring to pass the desires of our hearts.  God's desires for His children.  For me, for you, as we make our hearts moldable and available to God.

Resting and trusting.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Because Of And In Spite Of

As Baby Boomers, we have been blessed to see our children grow up to be responsible, caring, faith-full adults with loving spouses who have given us the greatest grandchildren in the world.  Okay, I might be a bit prejudice, but in all seriousness, we are so very grateful for who they are and Whose they are!  Children of the King!!

There are plenty of things we would have done differently in raising our kids, but we tried to instill in them a love for God and others.  We can look in the mirror and know we were good parents most of the time, and even though our role has shifted, we continue to try our best to be parents and grandparents that make our kids proud and grateful.

It was not all a bed of roses growing up in our family.  We have raised seven children (2 birth and 5 adopted) and also did therapeutic foster care at one time.  Some of our children came into the family carrying a lot of baggage. I was dealing with a mysterious debilitating illness that turned out to be Lyme and co-infections, and we were a pastor's family, which usually meant living in a fish bowl of some sort!

Our three younger children came older with too many challenges to name.  Our youngest daughter has made some important changes to her life, surviving a difficult past. Our younger two sons are from a virus that attacked his heart and caused his death at age 25 and the other from chosing a life of violence and abuse that made boundaries necessary. As an adult he eventually returned to his family of birth.

Joel and I used to wonder if the atmosphere in our home would turn our healthy kids away from our lifestyle.  We prayed it would not and it seems it has not.  Because of and in spite of it all, our four older are active in church and making sure their children are being raised to know Jesus.  They have a compassion for hurting children and those in need.

We also moved a lot, first as a military family and then as a pastor's family.  We went through a very traumatic extended time of stress when Joel's life was threatened by a dysfunctional man in one of our congregations.  Having the police guarding your home with guns drawn and whisking us out of town escorted by 6 police cars is not something children get over easily.  We stood firm through ongoing threats and concerns for six years and our faith was tested and strengthened.  As I said before, it was not always an easy life.

I do not want to sound like we are bragging.......we are just very thankful for the people our children have become.  They have not had perfect lives and they have each in their own way struggled at times like the rest of us.  I guess what I am trying to say is that God weaved His own plan into their lives.  And the trauma they went through as children, the ongoing difficulties with struggling siblings and a sick mom,  the moving around the country and across the world, seems to have helped shape them into being strong believers and people with purpose. Thank you Jesus.

We all have stories to tell of surviving and thriving.....because of and in spite of.  God is our strength!   He alone is our place of safety.  He has a plan for our lives that is for good and not for evil.  He hears our prayers and invites us to step out on the water with Him for a life of adventure and promise. We survive and we thrive......becoming strong believers and people with purpose.

Because of and in spite of.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

 It is a beautiful day here in our town.  We live just south of Lake Woebegone I am sure, (grin) and in our quiet neighborhood people sit out on their porch or deck, go for walks on designated paths, and bike around the area.

Speaking of neighborhoods, the people across the street had a big 4th of July party the night before.  We fell asleep at 11 pm to young kids playing outside.  They were all excited after the fireworks.  The city fireworks are close by~so close that Joel had to pick up the casings and debre that landed in our yard the next morning!  They shook the windows but we had a great view from our living room.

We spent a quiet fourth.  We rented a movie for that night~ Parental Guidance with Bette Midler and Billy Crystal.  It was really funny and we enjoyed it very much.  We realized we are the "other" grandparents as they were defined in the movie....the ones who live far from the grandkids and miss out on so much of their lives.    Sigh....

Garrison Keillor spoke about it on his radio show.  He said, "You raise your kids to be independent and successful and go out and see the world, and then that is what happens, and you seldom see them!  The only kids you see are the ones who are in trouble or are not quite so independent."  Our lives have also been so complicated by Lyme and what it did to not only Joel and me but to our family.  We can never give them back that time.  So glad that chapter in our lives is over and we can function and see family more.  Yay!!

We went to a wedding early this afternoon for a former parishner's family.   A casual wedding which was so fun.  Everyone should save their money and simplify simplify simplify!  We saw several members of Joel's former congregation where he served as their pastor for 10 years.  We watched the girls in this family grow up and it was a delight to re-connect with them.  The oldest is a pastor in Colorado, the second oldest works for Americorp in California.  The youngest, the bride, has stayed in the area.

Joel has recovered well from his bike accident although I have never seen a bruise like the one on his leg, hip, and flank.  Deep deep black/purple, eight inches long and up to 4 inches wide.  Yikes!  He is back to biking though, and today put in another 15 miles. 

I managed to walk 8/10th of a mile twice this week and this morning I walked 1 mile.   Amazing. You see, 15 months ago walking three minutes around my house was all I could manage.  Today I walked 10 times that!  It took me 30 minutes with the rest tucked  in before coming up the incline from the river.  It may have been a bit much since my pulse went up to 100 though.  It comes down pretty quickly so that is good.  Being I take a Beta Blocker eye drop for glaucoma my resting pulse is always around 60 so I was surprised to have it so high. 

We just finished our Saturday night special of pancakes with berries and coconut whipping cream while listening to Garrison Keillor on the radio.  We have been doing this for too many years to even count!  We were able to get organic strawberries and they are sooooooooooooo good!!  Now if we did not have to pay $2.50 for an organic cucumber I would be very happy.....

Joel and I watched a Biblical conference live stream from CO this past Monday - Friday.  It was really good, and of course it is always fun to learn something new.  We watched a bit of TV, but mostly did some porch sitting, morning and nightly live streamed teachings, and a bit of reading.  I am in need of a new book or two!

How has your week been?
Until next time.................

Monday, July 1, 2013

Memorial Box Monday: Prayed Together

Since it was our 45th Wedding Anniversary yesterday I wanted to repost the Memorial Box Monday story of how Joel and I were brought together by the prayers of others.

Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity started Memorial Box Mondays to help remind us of God's love and faithfulness. The stories written share those times in our lives where we have experienced God creating miracles, blessings, and provision just when we needed it.

When I was eighteen I left home to attend Bible college. The Lutheran Bible Institute, later known as Golden Valley Lutheran College, was a small 2 year college with around 250 students enrolled. It was nestled down in a valley of a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. The students came mostly from the Midwest and I was no different. It was a great atmosphere to live in and I enjoyed my two years there very much as we studied the Bible and grew in our faith.

On parents weekend, during my first semester, my older sister who helped raise me, and her good friend came for a visit. They looked over the campus while I was studying,  and then met me on the second floor of the commons building, near the chapel after their campus tour.  We visited for a short while before they announced that they had "found the guy I was going to marry".

I was more than a bit stunned, but listened quietly as they went on about how nice the young man was that they had met, and that he wanted to be a missionary in Africa just like his cousin David Simonson. They told me that they could "just see us married, living in Africa and working for God as missionaries".  Of course, I had been thinking about mission work for years, but I was not so sure about them picking out my husband! I finally asked who this guy was and just when they were going to tell me, my sister said, "Oh, there he is! He just walked in the door!!"

I had already met Joel and my first impression of him had not been very good, so when I looked down to see who it was I was shocked, and said in a loud voice, "You have got to be kidding! He is loud, obnoxious, AND he wears BOOTS! (I was a city girl and he was a country boy after all...). My sister and her friend just smiled, and said, "We will pray about it."

Six months later we started dating and just 18 months from the day of our first date we were married with my sister's friend singing The Lord's Prayer at our wedding service! We have been married 45 years now and Joel still wears his cowboy boots. No matter where we have lived ~ in the West, Midwest, or across the ocean in The Philippine Islands~ whether he is at home, in the pulpit, or performing a wedding ceremony~ his boots are on his feet or nearby. I have come to love those boots along with his western hat, jeans, and denim shirts. And I would much rather be a country girl that a city girl any day.  I have come to know how very blessed I am to have this man in my life.

When people ask how we met, we love to say we were prayed together, AND those who are prayed together stay together! God had a plan for our lives that included marriage vows which joined us together for quite an adventure in faithful living. Because of that plan, and of course my sweet Joel, cowboy boots will always hold a special place in my heart.

I am looking for a miniature pair of cowboy boots  to put in my Memorial Box to remind us of God's faithfulness and perfect plan for our lives. I hope God blesses you with our story in some small way.